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Friday, July 9, 2010

NASCAR: Chicagoland By the Numbers

NASCAR is in Illinois this weekend, at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Here we are to find out who historically has done well at this track, who has the best chance to win this week, and who has the edge based on performances at similar tracks. Chicagoland is a 1.5 mile D-shaped oval. The entire backstretch is somewhat curved, however, and that makes this track unique.

Jimmie Johnson is tied with Tony Stewart for the most top ten finishes at Chicagoland with seven each. Jimmie also hold the fastest qualifying lap record with a speed of 188.147 in 2005. Jimmie was a strong contender to win the 2009 Life Lock 400 but ran out of fuel before the end of the race; historically JJ is good on 1.5 mile tracks. Tony not only is tied with Jimmie for the most top tens but all of his top tens were also top five finishes; Tony holds the records at Chicagoland for most top five finishes with seven. Tony is the sole owner of the record for most laps led at Chicagoland; he has led 396 laps in Cup races in Joliet. Stewart is tied with Kevin Harvick for the most wins; both Harvick and Stewart have won at Chicagoland twice. Kevin also holds the race speed records from the 2002 race in which Harvick won with an average speed of 136.832. Could either Kevin or Tony make this the year to make the record three wins?

Mark Martin won last years Life Lock 400. Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kyle Busch all have had previous wins at Chicagoland, as well. Kyle Busch has had a frustrating last couple of races and is out for blood this week. If desire alone could get a car and driver to the Winner's Circle after the race, Kyle is there. Jeff Gordon is trying to secure a spot in the Chase, he wants this win nearly as badly as Kyle does. Jeff finished second to Mark Martin in 2009 at Chicagoland, he wants to better that runner-up status this time around. Newman has had top tens the last three July races at Chicagoland, he's obviously got this track almost figured out. Could this be the year it all comes together?

After last weeks Nationwide win and 4th place Cup Race finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr has some momentum going. Barring a wreck or mechanical failure Jr should be in the top ten at the end of the Life Lock 400 on Saturday night. Joey Logano won the 2009 Nationwide race at Chicagoland and has shown he can be a competitor at the Cup level once he has figured out a track. Could this be Joey's race to win?

Carl Edwards has shown he is usually a contender on 1.5 mile tracks. Sitting in spot number 12 in the Cup Point standings, Carl is definitely looking for a win this week to solidify his place in the Chase. One more driver to watch to crack the top ten this week at Chicagoland is Greg Biffle. Biffle is another strong 1.5 mile track driver, has had a couple top tens at previous races this year on 1.5 mile tracks, and has been quietly performing strongly enough to be sitting in the number 10 spot in the Points.

By the numbers, I am looking for the Top Ten at the end of the Life Lock 400 from Chicagoland, in no particular order, to include Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle. Watch for a top five to include Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, and Joey Logano. My pick for the weekend win is Tony Stewart.

In two weeks NASCAR heads to my Home Track, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400. Who has the best chances at the Brickyard? Find out in two weeks in the next installment of NASCAR: By the Numbers.

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